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Rashid Johnson’s Native Son film finds its star

Ashton Sanders at the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

The American actor Ashton Sanders, who starred as the teenaged Chiron in the Academy Award winning drama Moonlight in 2016, is in negotiations to play the leading role in a new adaption of the 1940 novel Native Son by Richard Wright. The feature film is due to be directed by the conceptual multidisciplinary artist Rashid Johnson and will be set in present-day Chicago, the artist’s hometown and a recurring subject of his racially charged works. The three-part novel, previously made into films in 1951 and 1986, deals with systemic oppression and African American identity, telling the story of the poor young man Bigger Thomas growing up in Chicago’s South Side in the 1930s. The film, which begins production next month, features a script written by the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, and cinematography by Matthew Libatique, who worked on Black Swan and Straight Outta Compton.